Preview: Cell C Sharks vs Toyota Free State Cheetahs

Saturday’s Currie Cup showdown between the Cell C Sharks and Toyota Free State at JONSSON KINGS PARK promises to be a real humdinger of a match in an important juncture in the competition.

Both sides are coming off frustrating losses and neither will want to suffer back-to-back defeats given how little time remains before the knock-out rounds when four teams will progress to the semi-finals and three must sit out.

Discussing the four changes to the side for this match, Cell C Sharks head coach Sean Everitt, explained: “MJ [Mzamo Majola] has been doing well off the bench and we wanted to give him a start in a rotational change with Juan Schoeman having done well in the set-piece work.  We’ve also brought in Phepsi Buthelezi at openside flank after he’s operated on the blindside. He’s done well for us, he’s quite dynamic with ball in hand so we’re looking forward to seeing him in that position. 

“Sanele Nohamba has had a little time off the bench and now he gets an extended opportunity. We said we wanted to grow the squad and the individuals and he’ll just get better with game time.  It’s quite exciting for Sanele to get his first senior start and we look forward to seeing what he’s got. The final change sees Rhyno Smith sitting on the bench for Apelele Fassi who did well when he came on against the Pumas.”

Everitt stressed the importance of the Cell C Sharks bouncing back after going down to the Pumas last week, particularly with just three rounds of the Currie Cup competition remaining.

“In the short competition it’s really important,” he explained. “We believe we’re in with a shot in the Currie Cup even though we’ve dropped two games but we have to understand that the performance we need now has to be the same standard that we delivered against Western Province.

“We know what we’re about, we know what let us down on the weekend, but in saying that, there were a lot of positives to take out. We played really well in the first half, with a lot of effort and energy and that’s what I asked the players for and what they delivered.”

For Cell C Sharks tighthead prop Coenie Oosthuizen, the loss to the Pumas will have added to the team’s determination to right the wrongs.

“I don’t think anyone goes out to lose a game and in my experience, the Cell C Sharks have always hit back after a loss.

“We’re making a continuous effort to improve and the boys were obviously really disappointed after last weekend.

“We were our own worst enemies, especially in the second half when we gave away lots of penalties and it’s something we will look to rectify against Free State,” he added.